The official start to summer is still a few days away; however, the temperatures and humidity levels have already arrived. As we brace for our first heat wave of the summer, medical experts encourage parents to heed the warning and know the signs of heat exhaustion.
“Heat exhaustion and heat-related illnesses can be detrimental in children,” said Sandra Herr, M.D., pediatric emergency medicine physician with University of Louisville Physicians and medical director of the emergency department at Norton Children’s Hospital. “If untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which requires immediate medical attention and could be fatal.”
Although everyone is at risk for overdoing it in the heat, Dr. Herr points out some kids are more sensitive, including infants; kids with eczema and other skin conditions; those with heart, lung and kidney conditions; and children taking certain medications, such as heart and blood pressure medications.
The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion can include
- Increased thirst
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased sweating
- Cool, clammy skin
- Elevation of body temperature (but less than 105 degrees Fahrenheit)
“The best way to avoid heat exhaustion is to purposefully prevent it,” Dr. Herr said. “Be very strategic about the amount of time your children spend outdoors, especially during the extreme heat of the day.”
Norton Immediate Care
When you or your family needs care right away for a minor illness or injury, stop by your neighborhood Norton Immediate Care Center. The highly trained providers at our urgent care clinics understand that you want to get well and back to what’s important.
Dr. Herr points out that heat exhaustion can develop into heat stroke if untreated. Symptoms of heat stroke can include seizures and a loss of consciousness. It also can lead to death.
Other tips to keep your kids cooler
- Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water before, during and after activities
- Wearing light-colored, loose clothing
- Staying inside during the hottest hours of the day. Typically this is 10 a.m. through 2 p.m.
- Taking frequent breaks indoors
As a reminder, it is never OK to leave infants or children in the car even in moderately warm temperatures. The temperature inside a vehicle can increase by 20 degrees within 10 minutes.
“If you are spending time outside with the kids, be sure to take frequent breaks and rest in the shade or even head indoors to the comfort of air conditioning,” Dr. Herr said. “Have water readily available and encourage everyone to drink up.”
Consider taking these hot and humid days as an opportunity to focus on indoor activities, such as a trip to the local library, visiting the play center at a shopping mall or catching up on movies at home.